Guayule latex expert Katrina Cornish has left the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Albany, Calif., to become the senior vice president of research and development at Yulex Corp.
Edward P. O'Sullivan also will join the Carlsbad, Calif.-based materials science company as chief financial officer.
Privately held Yulex, which was formed in 1997 and is focusing on the production of a U.S. source of natural rubber derived from the desert plant guayule, is ``fortunate to have the leading U.S. scientific expert on guayule and domestic latex production join the Yulex team,'' said Jeff Martin, president and CEO of the firm.
The addition of Cornish to head the company's research and development will accelerate the commercialization of the shrub, he said.
Cornish spearheaded the development of domestic NR production for 15 years at the USDA, and is the holder of process and product patents to produce hypoallergenic rubber latex and products from guayule.
After years of working primarily at one end of the spectrum, she said at the International Latex Conference, ``this is my opportunity to work on commercialization of guayule. If we don't establish the product, we'll have nothing.'' Those were her primary reasons for leaving the government agency.
During most of her span as a plant physiologist with the USDA, she was a one-woman department. ``I'll continue to maintain ties with our collaborators at universities and those involved with the Biotechnical Development of Industrial Rubber Producing Crops Project,'' which she headed up for the USDA, she said.
In her new post, Cornish will focus more on guayule development and commercialization and less on the paperwork associated with government projects. And she'll give the firm someone who can concentrate on new line development.
O'Sullivan brings more than 20 years of financial and operational management experience with technology and life science companies to Yulex. He most recently helped found and served as chief financial officer of Nextec Applications Inc., an advanced materials company, where he oversaw the company's financial, manufacturing and administrative operations globally.
He previously held executive posts with Newpoint Corp., Fluid Systems Corp. and Electron Inc.